Morrill Act

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MORRILL ACT. After decades of agitation by agricultural societies, farm journals, and other advocates of vocational training for farmers and mechanics, Senator Justin S. Morrill of Vermont introduced into Congress a bill for the establishment of agricultural and mechanical arts colleges in every state. The measure passed Congress in 1858, but President James Buchanan vetoed it. The Morrill Act, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, offered states thirty thousand acres of land for each sitting federal representative and senator as an endowment for the proposed schools. Some states, most notably Wisconsin, elected to give the land to existing institutions; others used it to establish new agricultural and technical colleges.


Cross, Coy F. Justin Smith Morrill: Father of the Land-Grant Colleges. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1999.

Simon, John Y. "The Politics of the Morrill Act," Agricultural History 37 (1963): 103–111.

Williams, Roger L. The Origins of Federal Support for Higher Education: George W. Atherton and the Land-Grant College Movement. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991.

Paul W.Gates/a. r.

See alsoAgriculture ; Cornell University ; Education ; Land Grants: Land Grants for Education ; Universities, State ; University of Wisconsin .